Designing the characters for Tony Mitton’s poems in Gnash, Gnaw, Dinosaur! was a little unusual. I had to give them all personalities and create the usual lively, believable characters, but I also had to make sure they were completely accurate. To help me with this, the publisher gave me an actual palaeontologist to work with!
He sent me reference material to work from and every drawing needed his approval. He would email me feedback like: ‘the wings should be slightly longer’ or ‘narrower head please’.
However, when I sent him this drawing of the Deinonychus, he was very apologetic. ‘Oh dear,’ he said, ‘I forgot to mention: we dug up a new fossil a while ago, and we’ve completely revised our ideas. He needs to look rather different now…’
He sent me new reference and, as you can see, he wasn’t kidding. I had to start all over again. Typically, the revision occurred on a page where there was an entire pack of dinosaurs to be redrawn! The change made for a far more bizarre and funny illustration though:
(Illustrations from Gnash, Gnaw, Dinosaur! published by Macmillan)